Reading Response #1
The American way of life from the first failed settlement in Roanoke is that, no matter the challenge or obstacle, anything can be overcome or bent to fit the needs of Americans. Since the very start it has been the goal of American settlers to colonize the land from coast to coast.
This comes from the idea of manifest destiny, the idea that there is no obstacle for Americans because God created this land for them and, as a result, anything can be bent to their will, even nature. In Dust Bowl, Donald Worster makes the statement that the natural disaster was caused by the American culture of capitalism (Worster, p. 4.), and this statement is very true. The
American culture of capitalism comes from the idea of manifest destiny, where anything should be used so that Americans can settle the land and live a life wherein they always have more than enough because this is their destiny. This idea of American capitalism, of always wanting more, is something that clouded the thoughts of Americans during the time of the Dust Bowl, and, as a result of this, Americans did not see the harm they were doing to the land.
The capitalistic nature of Americans and the idea of wanting more has had a negative impact on our relationship with nature. Nature was never meant to be controlled. It is something that should be lived alongside of. There are some things that man cannot control, even with technology, and nature is one of those things. The American movement to the plains during the great depression showed just how deeply rooted the problems affecting the American culture
were. It was not just an economic greed that was affecting the American settlers, but also religious values and human nature that clouded their judgment and continues to cloud our judgement about nature to this very day. When Americans arrived on the plains, they farmed excessively and with little knowledge of farming practices and routines. As a result they leached the land of all its nutrients and continued to farm on nutrient poor soil. This set the foundation for the Dust Bowl. The destruction of the farm lands on the plains was a main cause of the natural disaster, and it was not as if there were no warnings about how much harm was being done to the land.
Home is place the that one raises a family on and produces fond memories where one is connected to the land not only financially but emotionally and, as a result, cares about its well being. Americans lost this view of home as a result of the mentality of capitalism that was looming over their heads in every aspect of their lives; Americans were programmed to see land as an economic potential after decades of industrialism, and they were getting the option to cultivate land in the plains and make something for themselves with the introduction of the
Homestead Act, which gave land to anybody who wanted it. The idea behind this act was that they would grow crops and sell them so that there would be an overabundance and the
American people would be free of want. However, this just led to the abuse of farmland on the plains by settlers who did not understand sustainable farming practices and who were trying to get the most economic gain out of their lands.
Then came Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, and when Americans finally began to realize the harm being done to the land, they tried to reform. Roosevelt created many agencies to accomplish this goal of environmental reform and make up for the nations’ lack of conservation
efforts and misuse of the environment. Roosevelt was convinced that the environment was central; however, the short lived adjustment period where environment came first, later led to a point where we began to see a great deal of inequality in American society and Roosevelt wanted to make sure that Americans had the highest standards of living possible. To accomplish this,